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Tag - iOS game


GameTwist Slots (iOS) Review

November 17th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games 1 Comment »

Developer: Novomatic Games | Publisher: Funstage Games  || Overall:  8.5/10

GameTwist Slots is a slot game available on the iOS store.  If you want a no-fuss, varied slot experience, this may very well be up your alley.

Including 22 slots in all, you’ll start with 5000 credits and free reign on any of the slots you want to play.  As there is no progression system in the game, you won’t be met with any locks on any of the content.  Slots are easily downloadable at your discretion and you can select your favorites.  When you select a favorite, they will appear in their own tab where you can quickly select it as soon as you start the app.

Each slot has their own bonus games and art.  There are also special animated squares, depending on the slot’s theme, and many refer to something in popular culture, while others are more of a traditional slot theme.

Some of the slots available are:

  • Book of Ra Deluxe
  • Lucky Lady’s Charm
  • Sizzling Hot
  • Golden Ark
  • Gorilla
  • Royal Fruits
  • African Simba
  • Marilyn: Red Carpet
  • Wild! Roaring Forties

If you’re interested in slots games, GameTwist Slots has a great variety to add to your collection.

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Happy Fruits – Pub Slot (iOS) Review

November 8th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Mazooma Interactive Games || Overall:  8.5/10

Happy Fruits – Pub Slot is a fruit-themed slots game available on iOS.  As a single-themed slot, the experience revolves solely around the theme of smiling, jumping, happy fruit.  With some interesting bonus games, this slots game is one of the better slots games available.

As everything is Happy and Fruit themed, even the standard 10, J, Q, K, A letters are animated and smiling.  They represent different types of fruit, such as the Green J fruit, the Blue K fruit, and my favorite, the purple Q fruit.  They look so delicious, you’ll want to eat them!

Similar to other slots games, you’ll unlock features as you play.  Each level allows you to bet at a higher cap, and at level 5, Auto Play is unlocked.  You get bonus credits every level and as a timed bonus every four hours.  You start out with 2500 credits which can easily get you a few levels up just by itself.  Each bet will add XP to your player level, so higher bets will get you levels faster.

There are also several interesting bonuses.  The largest bonus is the three progressive jackpots that slowly grow as you play.  The pick-a-win multiplier, in which you choose one of three possible bonuses, multiply your bet by the one that is chosen.  The most frequent one I encountered was the Crazy Streak spin bonus in which you will be taken to a 3-slot game that rolls slots automatically.  When you gain three of a certain fruit in each of the allocated spaces respectively, you’ll attain the bonus that fruit type is assigned.  Once you get the killer tomatoes that require the bonus game to end, the rolls will stop and you’ll receive the payout.  This bonus game is pretty fun as you’ll see things slowly fill in and as you progress in levels you’ll be able to last longer against the tomatoes on average.

Happy Fruits – Pub Slot is an interesting slots game that has a unique bonus game and theme to offer to players.  If you are interested in trying out the game, it is available on the App Store.

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Roulette Live Casino (iOS) Review

October 30th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: AbZorba Games || Overall: 8.0/10

Part of the AbZorba suite of casino games, Roulette Live Casino is available for the iOS.  A simple, easy to play Roulette game using the AbZorba Avatar system, Roulette Live Casino is a perfect way for a beginner to understand the basics of the table game.

Once you sit at a table, it is easy to bet on the spots you for the next spin.  While Inside Betting on numbers directly will pay out the most, they are the least likely to hit.  Most of your bets should be spread out, and on the category-type Outside Bets, such as Black, Red, 1st 12, 2nd 12, etc.  There is a Help option that teaches these terms and how they are related to their payouts, so you’ll be able to know what you’re betting on.

The game will allow you to play with other people and you can see what bets other people do.  No one competes with each other, but you may be motivated to try and get a better total win than others on the table, or engage with them socially.  The options to place bets are simple taps with your finger, and you can also easily wipe your bets or place the same bets again with the on-screen commands.  There is a timer in the bottom corner that will inform you how much time you have for the current bet.

Roulette Live Casino also utilizes the same Avatar system as their other games, and you can make some fun custom combinations as well as opt to buying a “Hero” with Diamonds.  Chips are earned through regular play.  In-app Purchases are available for both currencies.

Roulette Live Casino is a nice roulette game for your iOS devices and if you are interested in learning the ropes of roulette.

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GameTwist Casino (iOS) Review

October 23rd, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer: Novomatic Games | Publisher: Funstage Games  || Overall:  9.0/10

GameTwist Casino is a multi-themed slots package.  Unlike some similar multi-slot apps, there is a progression system that requires you to level up to unlock more slots.  Starting out with 20,000 credits and three slots unlocked, you’ll gain levels and progress through the slots available.

As variety is one of the important aspects of GameTwist Casino, it is important to note how many slots there are.  There are currently 25 slots available, each unlocked every couple of levels at the lowest levels.  The highest slot is currently unlocked at level 160.  The progression system allows you to focus on the a smaller subset of slots as you unlock more, but not at a slow enough rate where you don’t feel like you lack the variety the game intends to offer.

You’ll unlock your 10th slot at around level 15, which is easily attainable after spending a little while with each of the slots you’ll unlock up to that point.  The gaps between unlocks grows as you get higher in levels.  The GameTwist Casino lobby is also easy to use as you can download the slots one at a time, and easily choose which one you are interested in playing.  Every level gained nets you a bonus, as well as the four hour Timed Bonus.

The art in the slots games is nice, and there are many 3D animations that enhance the general experience.  When a large win happens, big letters such as “BIG WIN” will appear which ups the excitement factor.  The user interface for the slots are consistent so you won’t have to “learn” anything new when you open up a new slot.

Some of the slots available are as follow:

  • Book of Ra deluxe
  • Gorilla
  • Sizzling Hot
  • Reel King
  • Lord of the Ocean
  • Marilyn Red Carpet
  • Golden Ark
  • African Simba

GameTwist Casino’s generous starting bonus allow for a lot of play to get used to and unlock many of the initial slots.  To get all of the slots unlocked, it will take a time commitment.  If you enjoy slots games, it can be fun to unlock the slots, as they feel like a reward when you attain the level milestone.

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Cops & Robbers Safecracker (iOS) Review

October 12th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer: Mazooma Interactive Games | Publisher: Funstage Games  || Overall:  9.0/10

Police chasing down the crooks is one of your classic scenarios for media.  On the iOS App Store, Cops & Robbers Safecracker is a free-to-play slots game that integrates the titular theme for your gaming pleasure.

You’ll notice immediately the cartoon-style the game inherits.  Overall, it has a 1920’s UK theme for the characters, and paired with the terminology, such as “You’re nicked!” the slots game has a certain charm to it that can appeal to the user.

What is really fun about this slots game is that being a singular theme allows the developer to focus on bonuses and expand upon the chosen theme.  With the normal slots game, which is a 5-Column slot format, you get pay outs for three/four/five-in-a-row matches.  You’ll see the standard 10, J, Q, K, A letters for slots, with a Police Officer being the second highest, and the “Cops ‘n’ Robbers” logo for the highest pay out.  There are also bulldogs that stand in as the Wild.  You are able to gamble your winnings at the end of a roll by way of a 50% chance predicting a Red or Black card being drawn.  This option can be toggled on and off as you desire and you can increase your bet in increments of 25, and after 100, increments of 100.  This allows you to fine tune how much you want to use, and the Auto Play toggle will show how many spins you can play at the current stake level before you turn Auto Play on again.

Along with the seven matching items for pay outs, a number of themed bonus items may appear.  If three of them appear on the board, you’ll enter one of the exciting bonus games.  Each bonus game is unique and can hold a lot of reward.

Your typical bonus comes in free spins.  Rolling three safes will earn you those free spins and you’ll choose between the three different safes.  They will have a different amount of spins each and the payouts you win during the free spins will be multiplied, which ups the value of your free spins considerably.

Getting three swag bags activates a bonus in which you choose one of three colored bags.  Each of the colored bags has a different amount of credits to be awarded.  As you play the normal slots game, these swag bags will slowly mature, and whatever the credit value is assigned to them at the time of the bonus activation is what you will get if you choose that bag.  The bags will be shuffled and you only choose one, so it is a 1/3 chance to get any of the three.  After the bonus, the colored bag you chose resets to a default value and proceeds to progressively mature again.

If you get three Crooks, you will enter a dice roll “Chase” bonus game.  A board is displayed with credit values, and you will roll a dice when ready.  The dice roll will dictate where your Crook lands on the board, and those credits are what you will earn for doing so.  After you roll, the police will roll as well, and they will either catch you or miss you.  If you are caught, you will be put in a suspect line-up, where you have a random 1/3 chance to get away and roll again on the board for more credits.  If the Crook is identified, your bonus round is over and you’ll return to the slots game.

Sound effects are also fun with voices, police sirens, jail noises, and other themed noises.  Visual effects are nice and the art style helps the game with its charm.  Every four hours will also earn you a free 500 credits, allowing you to start with about 2500 credits when you install.

If you’re looking for a slots game that integrates a multitude of bonus games, Cops ‘n’ Robbers Safecracker is a fun slots game.  One of the advantages of playing video slots is that the bonus games can become fairly interactive and exciting, and this is one of those instances that takes advantage of that fact.

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Slotpark (iOS) Review

October 4th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Funstage Games  || Overall:  8.5/10

Slotpark is a free casino app available in the German App Store.  Slotpark maintains the same user interface integrated across a wide variety of slots as players switch between them.  In the corners you’ll be shown your current Credit balance and your levels.  With each level, you gain an extra Credit bonus, as well as a timed bonus every 4 hours, which is standard across many casino apps.  The first few levels are quite easy to reach, so you’ll be earning a lot of bonus Credits as you start out.  This is a good way to allow you to get used to the game’s features and slots, and improves the accessibility to new players.

Slotpark currently includes 12 differently-themed slots, with more being added.  You’ll be able to switch between slots very easily by downloading a new slot.  Once you feel like changing, it is easy to go back to the Lobby and switch to another slot.

The slot selection is varied, and each theme can be fun depending on your personal preference.  5-Column games are what you’ll see mostly, but there are a couple of 3-Column games available.  The selection of slots include the following and more:

  • Lucky Lady’s Charm Deluxe – lady/luck/magic themed
  • Queen of Hearts deluxe – castle/red heart theme
  • Book of Ra Deluxe – Egypt themed
  • Pharaoh’s Tomb – also Egypt themed
  • Lord of the Ocean – Poseidon/water theme
  • Dolphin’s Pearl Deluxe – water/pearl theme

It is very convenient to be able to switch between slots that are available via the Slotpark lobby.  If you are interested in trying out Slotpark, you can find it on the German App Store.  It is also available in the Austria, Switzerland, Romania, Turkey, French, Netherlands, and Greek App Stores.

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Gaminator (iOS) Review

September 27th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Greentube Alderney Ltd.  || Overall:  8.5/10

Gaminator is a free casino app available in various European App Stores.  Using the same user interface integrated across a multitude of slots, players are able to hop around between different themes as they see fit with ease.  When first booting up the game, you are presented with an easy-to-understand interface.  In the top corners you’ll be shown your current Credit balance and your levels, the most important pieces of information.  With each level, you gain an extra Credit bonus, as well as a timed bonus every 4 hours.  The first few levels are easy to attain, so you’ll be earning quite a bit of bonus Credits as you start out.  This is a good way to allow you to get used to the game’s features and slots, especially if this is your first casino game.

Gaminator currently includes 13 differently-themed slots, with more being added.  You’ll be able to quickly and easily switch between slots that you like without restrictions such as a level minimum.  Once you feel like changing, it is easy to go back to the Lobby and switch to another slot.

The slot selection is diverse, and each theme can be fun depending on your personal preference.  Most are 5-Column games with a couple of 3-Column games available.  The selection of slots include the following and more:

  • Lucky Lady’s Charm Deluxe – lady/luck/magic themed
  • Book of Ra Deluxe – Egypt themed
  • Columbus deluxe – based on Christopher Columbus
  • Ultra Hot Deluxe – 3-Column fruit theme
  • Lord of the Ocean – Poseidon/water theme

It is very convenient to be able to switch between slots that are available via the Gaminator lobby.  If you are interested in trying out Gaminator, you can find it on the Hungarian App Store.  It is also available on the Czech, Polish, Russian, and Slovakian App Stores.

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Puzzle Craft (iOS) Review

September 7th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer: AT Games | Publisher: Chillingo Ltd || Overall: 9.5/10

Seldom do games made for a smart phone really impress me.  Puzzle Craft did.

Puzzle Craft is a charming, fun, and simple puzzle game that is the most fun I’ve had with any single phone game yet.  I originally downloaded and played the game to completion about a couple years ago, and introduced it to a some people.  Every now and then I hear about how those people still play it to this day, long after I uninstalled it.  I fully intended to review it, but I never got around to it.  I took pictures of my end progress, but somewhere along the way I forgot to do anything with those screenshots.

Puzzle Craft is the story of your people and your town that you create from scratch.  As you progress, you build out your town, hire more workers, earn gold, and endlessly match a variety of different resources.  As long as you meet a minimum match requirement (the base is three), you can string together as many other items along the way by drawing lines through them only once.  Being able to go in diagonal directions, you have to think outside the box and can get some long matches going.  With limited turns, it is very important to try and maximize each turn you take as it costs resources or Gold to do so again.

There are only two locations to play the matching game — the farm and the mine.  The farm requires only 30 Gold to begin farming.  The mine requires 100 Gold, but you can also use the resources you gather from the farm matching game to begin a mine matching game.  Eventually you gain enough resources to progress your town and gain experience by matching.  Some buildings allow you to gather new resources, use new tools, and eventually new obstacles present themselves within the unique matching games.  The game slowly ramps up in complexity and difficulty to keep things fresh.  You’ll need to learn how to use tools to elongate your turns and set up big matches — it is very important to learn how to maximize your earnings as furthering your buildings and experience will require pulling out every trick you can muster.  Unfortunately, when doing long matches, your finger can also get in the way of seeing what direction you want to go — it can be a bit cumbersome at times to figure out the best path as a result.  I suppose this could be part of the challenge, but I doubt it was designed with that intention in mind.

One of the most satisfying things about Puzzle Craft, is that everything you do adds toward your progression.  As you learn tricks on how to be efficient when farming and mining, you’ll be able to quickly get ahead of the game and build a lot of buildings fast.  A nice part of the building process is you are given the freedom to choose which plots buildings can go, which allows you to customize your town.  Some buildings can only be used in one location, however.

Buildings are very important and offer rewards on cooldown.  Depending on the building it might offer you tools, resources, gold, or simply be part of the cosmetic look of your town after its initial benefit is earned.  You might have learned that it is very annoying to have to try and tap anything on the very sides of your phone, especially if you have a case protecting it.  Unless you know what buildings do what, you have to take a chance that you might place a building in an inconvenient location for your finger to tap.  Sometimes buildings are placed behind other buildings and you end up tapping the wrong one and you are put into a different menu, away from the town, then must try again and be more precise in your tapping.  Considering all of those bonuses are endless and only require time before they are replenished, you deal with it, but it would be nice if there was some sort of catch-all button, as once you build out your town to capacity, it can be a chore to click 50 things every time you start it up after a few hours.  It would have been nice if there was a way to move buildings around, but there is no option to do so.

Gold is essentially the primary resource in the game, and with gold you can buy or do practically anything.  When you grind your resources in the farm/mine, you can sell extra resources for gold at the Market.  Gold is the limiting factor of the game, and if you had a lot of it, the game’s challenge would go away.  Initially when I started playing there was no way to buy gold, but with an update sometime last year (shortly before I uninstalled it) they added an option to buy.  If you play enough, you’ll have as much gold as you could ever desire, so the impetus to buy is pretty low.  Considering once you get to the end you can Reset the game to the beginning and start anew, I’m not entirely sure what happens to the gold you might have bought.  You can look at this more as a “cheat” rather than something that allows you to play longer.  I did get a bit disappointed when that was added, but it didn’t take away anything from the core gameplay, so it is easily overlooked.

Workers are also a nice cosmetic addition, walking through your town when hired.  As you hire more workers, they benefit you in specific ways and you can become more efficient.  You can only hire up to five of each worker, so you have to plan for which workers will benefit you the most at the time of your progression.  They cost resources, so you may have to decide between a worker and a building at times.

The art style really grows on you, and as you get used to it you see the charming aspects it has to offer.  The animals and the vegetables have a lot of character to them, and the workers and buildings all fit in and have unique art.  There are lots of colors and you really feel like you’re in a old time utopia town making your denizens happy with your progression.  The music isn’t terrible, either, and the sound effects also add a bit of fun as the chickens cluck, pigs oink, and the cows moo when you match them.  Different tools also have different sound effects and the dynamite can be satisfying along with its visual action.

Late in the game, you are able to open treasure chests which offer nice bonuses.  To open treasure chests you have to meet the requirements of the treasure map, which may be something like matching 14 grass.  To open the chest at this point, you need to drag your finger through 14 grasses before ending up on the chest.  There are also different levels of chests, and they may require more rare resources being matched to have them open.  This adds a challenge to the game in its later stages, but also can mean nice rewards.  There are also items to collect that appear in your archaeology hut, and once a collection is complete, you gain a permanent buff.

While there is a long end game to play once you’ve completed your village, it can become old fast as it is very grindy.  The exciting part of the game is building up your town and making more buildings.  Once the game changes its focus to completing treasure chests and defeating enemies, it becomes a little frustrating at times and not as light-feeling as it is when you initially start the game.  Fortunately you are able to reset the game and start from scratch, so you are able to play as you see fit.  If you are really good, you’ll have so many tools you don’t know what to do with them.  Tools can be frustrating to use over and over as it takes two clicks to use them, and if you have 80 of them to use as extra, you’re going to have to click 160 times to use them all.  Some tools become redundant and obsolete as you progress, but you are still stuck with them as the only way to get rid of them is to use them.

Puzzle Craft deserves a lot of attention.  It is such a great smart phone game to play, and without being pestered to buy in-app credits every ten seconds, you really feel like the purpose of the game was to have fun rather than sell you endless amounts of digital goods or peddle ads to you all of the time.  A rare thing to see in games, nowadays.

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Poker Live Omaha & Texas (iOS) Review

September 7th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: AbZorba Games || Overall: 8.0/10

A part of the AbZorba Games’ casino line-up, Poker Live Omaha & Texas for the iOS is essentially the same user interface as the previously reviewed BlackJack Live Casino.  Many familiar aspects are present, and it won’t take you long to get used to the differences if you have experience with any of their other apps, like I did before playing it.  Poker Live Omaha & Texas shares the amusing avatar system, and has the same social-network-of-sorts functionality that is included in the previous title I reviewed.

Uniformity across titles is the basis, and many of the same comments I made about the game’s functionality and social network would just be reiterated for this title, so the best thing to do is to focus on the game of Poker itself as it is presented in Poker Live Omaha & Texas.  As an aside, I did include the avatar pictures in the screenshot gallery from the previous game, as they are identical.

The benefit to having two or more of the titles from AbZorba installed on your phone grants greater daily bonuses to earn.  You gain a bonus for each title, which understandably entices you to have all of AbZorba’s games installed on your phone at the same time.  If you enjoy their games, it’s not a bad bonus to have, as it’s not really difficult to obtain.

Unlike Black Jack where you play against the dealer primarily, you are playing against other players.  Calling bets and raising each other to the point they either fold or lose all of their money.  The competitive aspect can be a big draw for some who like that, and not to mention it is Poker, after all.

Texas Hold’em and Omaha are represented in the game.  Unlike in Black Jack, you’ll kind of need to hit the ground running to make sure you don’t play awfully, since you are competing against other players out for your sweet chips.  You’ll also have to take risks to get ahead, and that doesn’t always pay off.  It is smarter to play the lower limit tables initially since you only start with about 30K chips.  Sitting at a table that meets your betting position is important to the longevity of your play.  You may also benefit more from going head-to-head rather than being at a full table.  It all depends on the amount of chips you have, the limits of the table, and the balances of everyone else at the table.  You can, of course, buy more chips to limit the guesswork here or to replenish your credits if you are run ragged, otherwise you’ll have to wait for the bonuses to add up before playing again.

The game-specific user interface allows you to pre-play your hand in a certain number of ways to get the game moving faster.  If you know you are most likely going to win a hand because you have a 4-of-a-kind, you can click the “call any” bet.  You may also just want to wait until it is your turn to do a proper raise, though.  You can also tell the game to check/fold so when it hits your turn you automatically check or fold depending on if someone bet in that round.  I always like to maintain full control over my hands, so I seldom used those functions.  It might be more useful on tables that have people taking a long time to play, however.

There’s not much point to explaining the rules of Texas Hold’em and Omaha, as these are popular games you can look up on any number of sites.  The Poker Live Omaha & Texas app on the iOS store can be a fine choice if you are looking for one of these apps, and along with the other apps in their offering, the bonuses end up being worthwhile.

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BlackJack Live Casino (iOS) Review

August 29th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games 1 Comment »

Developer/Publisher: AbZorba Games || Overall: 8.0/10

Black Jack is your classic old-time casino game.  Counting cards, hitting at the right time, and making sure your six-shooter is at the ready just in case someone thinks you’re cheating.  Nowadays, it’s not so dangerous as Black Jack is now available on smart phones.  You can play it on the go, in your home, or on the can.  It would be hard playing in all three of those situations at the same time, but at least you have your gun in case anything unexpected happens…. like… umm… a jet fighter dog-fighting with your flying house that is powered only by the propulsion of toilet water?

Anywho, that’s enough of that.

BlackJack Live Casino for the iOS is one such Black Jack gaming app available.  While it’s a pretty normal casino app, it offers a few standard features to extend your play time such as buying more Credits (to play the actual Black Jack game) and a higher-tier currency known as Diamonds (for bonus games and customizing your avatar), and the usual time-based free bonuses for returning.  There is also a leveling system that automatically awards you Credits at each level up through play.

When using Credits to play Black Jack (which is arguably the whole point of BlackJack Live Casino), you can join a table and start playing against a dealer.  You can have up to four players (including yourself) at a table, going through the regular flow of Black Jack.  The game can be a bit social as you can chat with other players while playing, and you’ll watch each player take their turn against the dealer.  Unfortunately, you have to wait one by one, instead of everyone taking their turn at the same time.  This can make you feel impatient and not exactly make you want to join a table that is full as a result, since the games will take a little longer.  If people are talking, it can help with socialization as people have some extra time to type.

The game can be welcoming to players of all skill levels, but I think that the game would be useful to learn the ins-and-outs if you are just starting to learn Black Jack in general.  The user interface is pretty friendly and helps you out by automatically awarding you when you attain a Black Jack and automatically standing when you hit 21.  Lesser games would allow you to “mess up” and hit again to bust, so it is a nice feature to have included in the game.  There is a help menu that will explain Black Jack’s rules and as you play you’ll basically learn the flow of repeated plays.  The text can be a bit small at times, as well.

A funny aspect of the game, though I’m not sure how much it actually affects the gameplay, is that you or the other people at the table (including the dealer) can draw identical cards.  One game I drew two Five of Diamonds in the same play and although the game “shuffles” the cards after a certain amount of time, I’m unsure if this means they combined multiple decks or what.  This basically makes any inclination to “card count” pointless, if you were able to.  There are a couple of bonus games outside of the Black Jack game that requires Diamonds.  Diamonds are attained by purchase primarily, and you earn a lot more Credits with these bonus games.

What is possibly the most “interesting” feature is the Avatar system.  I was thoroughly amused by the amount of random items and costumes your avatars are able to wear, including sexy Santa, a mummy, a spy, a matador, a Texan waitress, etc.  Imagining all of these random people sitting around a table playing Black Jack is a bit fun to think about.  The avatar gallery provides an alternate use for your Diamonds and if you don’t want to use a preset avatar (known as a “Hero”) you can customize your avatar to your liking using a smattering of all of the pieces available.  When other players click to view your profile, they will be able to see your avatar as well as your other stats related to your career in the game.

Another funny aspect of the game is the “Cocktail” feature.  You are able to buy gifts/items/drinks for other people you are sitting at a table with, presumably for the times you want to impress people or something.  There are a few funny items in there, such as developer-branded French Fries, sunglasses, a hamburger, and other random things.  There appears to be a seasonal store that changes up depending on the time of year, as it currently has summery items available.

As far as free casino games go, BlackJack Live Casino is about all you can ask for in a Black Jack game.  A few tweaks here and there and I wouldn’t have anything to point out to complain about.  Black Jack can be fun for a round of hands every now and then and BlackJack Live Casino is a worthwhile option.

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Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire (iOS) Review

July 30th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games 2 Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Cervo Media GmbH || Overall: 8.0/10

Hardware Used: iPhone 5 with iOS 6

Reviewing sequels to games you enjoy tend to be a typical thing when you are a reviewer.  It’s easy to sit there and write out how everything in the sequel is the same, but better in so many ways, and even pull from your previous review for inspiration.  In this case, Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire is the sequel to a previously reviewed title, Slots – Pharaoh’s Way; it essentially boils down to this: it is a slots game that is a sequel to a slots game and it is still… a slots game.

In my previous review I went through the ethics and personal feelings I had with the business model this slots game (now series) presents itself with.  The structure is very much the same in Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire as it was in Slots – Pharaoh’s Way, and really all that you’ll initially see (if you are moving from the previous game to this) is that you are resetting back to zero.  Slots – Pharaoh’s Way is an endlessly-updated grind to the next slot, and Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire is not much different.  There’s no point, really, in talking about what is the same, but it’s an opportunity to talk about what IS different.

It is an interesting observation that many of the improvements I had suggested in my previous review seems to actually have come to pass — namely in more significant time-based rewards and an interesting meta game which rewards you as you play.

Free bonus credits are earned by increment of four hours as Slots – Pharaoh’s Way had done and still seem to scale higher as you progress — you also get a “special bonus” on every fourth redemption, which is a unique bonus game.  The “Money Rain” bonuses (credits you earn as a bonus to leveling up) that occur also scale higher along with your level.  Another vital, new, free bonus happens now in the form of a Return Bonus independent of your hourly bonus — if you visit every day your rewards slightly increase as each day goes on.

A meta game has been introduced in this title that revolves around collecting relic pieces, signified by a moving piece that represents your progress through leveling.  As you complete the relics you gain a large payout of credits.  Whereas before you would attain this payout at a certain increment of levels, the progression is “broken up” and given a visual representation to tell you that you are almost at the next milestone.  This is a welcome change as it gives the feeling of an adventure and collecting relic pieces to add to your overall collection — of which there are many relics to collect.  Your piece moves every 1/3 increment of a level and you gain a relic piece at every two levels.

Included with the meta game is also a bonus chance to earn credits within that meta game progression.  A chest moves every five turns (slot plays) within your progression path, and if it appears on top of your moving piece, you get into one of the bonus games unique to this chest.  One is a spinning wheel that lands on a number and the other I encountered was a “Risk to Double” game – you roll a number and risk it (to double it) by choosing heads/tails.  If you lose in the Risk to Double game, you get a consolation prize regardless, but it is usually going to be a paltry amount.  It is pretty much the same idea as the bonus card game that you get access to on regular slot wins.  The bonus card game is still essentially useless, and the same rules apply as in the previous game.  Because they are essentially the same game, I am lead to think that the Risk to Double just isn’t worth the risk.

There is more diversity in the initial few slots, and it is seemingly less reliant on the “Pharaoh’s” theme, unlike the first game.  The second slot level you are all of a sudden in the African safari with elephants and shit.  What happened to the God damn pyramids and whipping slaves?!  I want some more Anubis and King Tut shit before I start traveling all over the world.  Every 10 levels unlocks a new slot and this time around there are no numbers showing how many diamonds you earned so it’s not as easy to tell what your progress is other than a visual bar.  I assume that they’ve reigned in the required amount of diamonds to make it more linear rather than it’s exponential growth that occurred in the last game, but it isn’t easy to tell.

Buying credits still seems like something predatory, but there can be plenty in-game to at least make you feel like you are earning credits with the extra bonuses and the new meta game portion.  Where the ethics get involved here, is that the game has to feel rewarding to keep you hooked, but they can’t be too rewarding since they want to sell credits. It’s a very fine balancing act that appears to sometimes rig the bonus games to not be very rewarding all of the time. For example, a risk/reward game that stops between a large number and a small number will seemingly skew towards the small number more often than not. Even the “meta chest” game is privy to this, despite being essentially an added system for overall bonuses.  There are lots of added bonus games involved with the title, but none are overly rewarding, which takes a little bit of the excitement out of hitting one of them.

As someone who grinded quite a few million diamonds in the previous iteration, it feels a bit daunting to get into and start yet another slots game (with essentially the same progression system) from scratch.  Personally, it feels like there should either have been some sort of credit sharing between the two games, or Slots – Pharaoh’s Way upgraded with the additions they made for Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire.  Business-wise, I completely understand why you would want your players to experience a full reset — the grind is necessarily subject to becoming hooked as you gain levels with more regularity at the lower levels and hitting level 243 might not mean anything anymore.

There are some graphical enhancements (addition of more 3D graphics/animations is the biggest difference) and some sound “additions” that are a bit corny as some deep-voiced European-sounding dude (read: not Egyptian) is one(?) of the performers.  As always, I turned my sound off within ten minutes of booting up the game, so it didn’t matter to me.

Is the game good?  Sure.  It’s not any better or worse than the previous game, really.  A lot of the additions I proposed were actually included and its made the game a better package, however the intent of the game is to make money at the end of the day and they can’t go too crazy with the fun.  For the benefit of the series, it would be interesting to see a different progression system than grinding diamonds and levels to unlock more slots.  For a more in-depth look at all of the basic functions of the game, please check out my previous review as almost all of it is relevant for this game.

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Aspects TD (iOS) Review

November 26th, 2013 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Sabaton Games LLP || Overall: 7.0/10

Hardware Used: iPhone 5 with iOS 6

Due to a supposed shortage of tower defense games on iOS (I’m not personally an expert on the statistics of genres of the games on the App Store), Sabaton Games thought it prudent to create the recently released Aspects TD.  So, has Sabaton Games developed the experience one should expect from a tower defense game on the iOS?  I suppose the answer would be yes, but at the same time, no.

Aspects TD is a little bit different from most tower defense games I’ve played.  Most of my genre experience comes from the fantastic PixelJunk Monsters, as well as many StarCraft (the first one) Use Map Settings games, among other games I can’t particularly remember.  The most unique thing about Aspects TD is certainly being able to essentially “combat” against an opponent.  More than just defending your base with towers known as Totems, you are assaulting your enemy’s base with your OWN monsters known as “Phantoms.”  Monster waves are sent to each player at the same time, from what I can tell, and you’ll have to be able to time your summoning of extra Phantoms at the right moment to throw a kink in your opponent’s tower coverage in hopes to get some of your Phantoms across the map and through to the opponent’s base.

This game-play design forces a balance.  Either build more Totems to defend or summon Phantoms to attack your opponent.  You automatically gain a resource called “Mana” every time one of your Totems kills an enemy Phantom.  When you summon your own Phantom,  you begin to gain Mana from something called “Faith.”  You gain more Faith by summoning Phantoms — 10% of their cost goes into this Faith pool.  Every ten seconds or so from the time you summon your first Phantom, you will begin to gain Mana equal to the number of your Faith in addition to what your Towers gain from killing monsters.  This process continues until the end of the match, and your Faith number will grow as long as you summon more Phantoms.

Depending on how well you do at placing your Totems, you may be able to be more economical and send more Phantoms out against your opponent and gain resources over time.  The investment can build up into something worthwhile, but depending on what kind of enemies end up being sent at you, you can definitely use that extra 1000 mana to build more Totems rather than waiting for the long-term interest on your investment.  Unfortunately, the game does not reward you for being truly economical with your Mana — you don’t see the typical percentage gain of resources based on what you have pooled.  This can create the issue of needing to keep your Mana at near 0 or you will run the risk of possibly being behind in either defense or attacking.  If you choose to spend on attacking, your Faith will grow to almost ridiculous levels and you won’t have enough time to use it on building more Totems or attacking.  But at that point, you’ll probably be able to overwhelm your enemy with a ton of Phantoms — so that isn’t a big deal, per se.

On top of the prior circumstances, due to the mishmash of enemies each wave, you can’t really construct a strategy other than hopefully having enough damage to get through each progressive wave.  Phantom waves are not usually themed, such as “flying only” or “this type of enemy only” so it can be hard to plan for all contingencies at all times.  Each wave increases difficulty of killing the monsters, because your Totems do not grow in strength and your enemies get more health.  The tuning in this regard seems very exact and they don’t really give much leeway in exploring the use of different totems in different places.  Totems cost a lot and there’s not a huge diversity, not to mention they can’t be upgraded at all.  It feels like they were going for more of a Plants vs. Zombies feel more than a traditional tower defense game in some aspects, but in the end after trying a lot you can get through most of the fights just by trying to perfect your strategy as much as possible.  Overall, the game tends to just be super fucking hard and you can get the feeling you are relying on luck to get past the challenges rather than actual strategy.

Your profile will have experience gain, but for what purpose, I couldn’t tell you.  I can only assume that your Phantoms/Totems gain power as you “level up” but that means you have to lose several games before you gain enough power to actually beat a mission you might be having trouble with.  There is no indication of actually increasing your power through these levels, since when you level, there is nothing that tells you what you’ve gained.  Even if you notice that some of the numbers in your profile change, whether or not they are large enough to affect anything is left to question.

As you play the game, you’ll notice that numbers fly all over the place signifying how much damage your Totems are doing.  These numbers are useless, and clutter up the screen, not to mention they are absolutely redundant since there are also health bars — which can’t be seen because they are hidden behind all the numbers!  There is wayyyy too much information and it is to the detriment of the visuals of the game.  The satisfying aspect should be seeing the damage you do to your enemies, not the damage numbers covering up the actual visuals.  Health bars are more than enough to gauge if an enemy is going to die, and should be all that is needed.

Controls are a whole other issue with this game.  For one, the squares are way too small.  I don’t know how much of an issue this would be on an iPad, but since they opt for a “tap and drag” interface rather than something that is more natural for a touch screen, it can be quite cumbersome to place your tower somewhere you actually didn’t want it to go or on a square you aren’t able to build on.  A more natural option would have been tapping an existing square on the board and then choosing the Totem you want to make from there.  The same is true with the Phantoms — you are “tapping and flicking” them upwards when really all you should have to be forced to do is tap them.  The User Interface can be cleaned up considerably if they put a little more effort into those systems.

Lag can also be an issue — when you have a ton of Totems and a ton of Phantoms going around on your opponent’s map, numbers are flying everywhere, shit is blowing up, and you are left with a game dropping down to four frames per second.  This goes to the root of the issue where the words “less is more” comes to mind.  It may have been a more pleasant experience to be able to place less Totems on the board in a more strategic fashion, with less enemies, and less stupid numbers flying all over the place.  Not to say that you can’t have a game that is designed like Aspects TD is currently — just that there are some things you can do to prevent a clumsy game-play experience that chugs at a low frame rate when too much is happening.

The character art in the game is pretty cool — but the actual game-play art is below what you may have expected at first glance.  The “Phantoms” pretty much all look like crap, but some of the Totems look very cool.  The totems have this weird sci-fi shamanistic thing going on — think Avatar, I guess.  There’s no real explanation as to why Totems launch missiles and shoot lasers or flames, but at least they look cool doing it.  This leads into the story itself.  The story is actually very interesting in the beginning and I was very hopeful for what the game would have in store.  I had been putting a lot of effort into this game since it was so freaking hard, but it came to be my extreme disappointment that the story completely fell off and most of the missions became something like “Oh, I have to defend my people” and “Oh, there’s bad guys over there, but whatever I’m going to go and kill them.”  The story had started with some sort of conspiracy thing and mystery as to where the evil forces were coming from.  Also, I was hopeful that the technology would be explained somehow to add more layers to the story.  But they never really propel that story forward by the time you’re on the 19th mission, which is the currently last mission available.  Not to mention, the 19th mission also feels like it is rigged against you and unless you grind some levels, I don’t see how its possible to beat the mission at all.

According to the game, there are more missions “coming soon.”  It is kind of weird, because the whole way through, you’re “unlocking” more Phantoms and Totems — even in the last available level!  Like, for what purpose am I still unlocking things on the last level?  Is there a time where I actually get to play the full game with all of the options available?  Apparently not.  At least, in this current version of the game.  This isn’t a “free to play” style game in which you expand your options or buy more missions.  By saying there are missions “coming soon” it is essentially saying that you are buying an incomplete game.  It’s nice to have an update to look forward to, but when you’re playing a game you outright bought and you get to the end of the game and you haven’t actually started to use all of the skills you learned about during the progression, you can feel cheated.  It feels almost like the game is too hard on purpose, just to elongate the amount of time you have to spend on the game to get to the last mission, with the last mission being practically unbeatable.  There is also no information regarding when “soon” is or how many missions are to be expected.

There are three different characters to choose from… but you can only save the progression of two separate characters.  Each of the three characters have their own perks, and special totems.  But as you might expect, the story is the same for all of the characters.  I am unsure why you can’t have one save slot for each character, but it’s not like it really matters that much since the game is essentially the same between them.  Save slots don’t even seem very useful at all in this game, since you can go back and play any mission at any time.  It only seems to serve as restricting you from switching characters on the fly and to keep your “levels” contained to only one of the characters.

Oddities arise with the game as well — you will see the occasional bad spelling error or a grammatically incorrect phrase.  I think there also might be a tower that has had its description switched with another tower, but I can’t be too sure there.  Considering there isn’t a whole lot to actually read in the game, it is fairly rare throughout the experience where you’ll encounter these bizarre errors.  Sound is another issue with the game, which is easily solved (hint hint).  The music is repetitive and the sound effects are just annoying.  While I can agree that the music is nice to listen to maybe one or two times, there doesn’t appear to be any variety at all — they keep playing the same song over and over.  Sound effects can be really annoying if they are not used correctly, but like many other games you may play on your iOS device, it’s better to just turn off the sound.  The game has been stable, and except for the massive frame drops when there is a ton happening, there is only one consistent crashing problem.  When you lose, if you press “Next” the game will just quit completely and you will have to boot up the game again to replay the level.  To prevent having this happen, you have to tap “Skip” and then replay the mission.  I have no idea what “Next” is supposed to do if it was actually meant to work.  It’s almost like the game is saying “You suck, you shouldn’t play this game anymore, so let me quit the game for you.  See ya later asshole!”

Currently the game is $1.99 for a release sale, but will go up to $2.99 once the promotional period is over.  Two dollars is definitely not a lot of money, but in the case of this game it might be worth it if you’re really into seeing a different tower defense game, or if you absolutely need something like this on your iOS devices.  Multiplayer is a feature in the game, but can only be played locally, so if you want to take advantage of that feature, you’ll have to convince another friend to pay their two (or three) dollars to get into the game, as well.  I suppose that the multiplayer aspect might actually be “the thing you were meant to do” with this game, but considering Tower Defense is a niche genre already, you’re not going to find someone to play this with unless you make them buy it.

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Candy Crush Saga (iOS): A Soccer Mom’s Review

April 26th, 2013 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Soccer Mom Dave

This is a satire about the way a certain “parent” would look upon a video game. It’s written as if it was for a site that was run by mothers who denounce controversial video games based on third party information rather than actually experiencing it themselves, and making rash judgments about things they have little knowledge about. The name of this “mother” is Soccer Mom Dave.

Developer/Publisher: King Games  | Soccer Mom Score:  0/10

How dare they.

They made a game based on candy.

A group of buffoons who have enough gall to create a game so delicious-looking that it influences my children to eat candy!!!!!! All of these developers who made this game will rot in Candy Hell – don’t they know that America’s obesity epidemic starts and ends with the media? Games like Candy Crush Saga influence our children to become stupid, fat, obese adults who want to eat more candy and junk food. Jelly, whip cream, gum balls, exploding candy, chocolate balls with sprinkles that turn everything else into exploding candy! What kind of a sick mind would think of this stuff?

Not only does this game appeal to children, since they put a little child in the game as the main “protagonist” but they also try to appeal to sexy fatherly men who wear suits, just like this butler guy who tells you how to accomplish all of these massively unappealing, evil puzzles while talking in a sultry voice. It is just perfect that this game is a “match-three” game – it influences our children and prospective husbands to always want to eat candy in groups of three, four, or five. Not only that, but you get rewarded for matching higher combos, implying that you will succeed if you eat more candy! What lies are they feeding the general public with their implications!? There are absolutely no disclaimers that this candy is Calorie-Free, or even Fat-Free! Eating candy will kill you. Also, dragons and talking robots do not exist. I don’t know why they even put them in this slow-and-torturous-murder simulator. The dragon probably has diabetes from swimming in sugar water too long.

As if my life wasn’t terrible enough before this game came out, for free, I now have to deal with my children begging me for candy and acting like the whip cream in the game. They hug my knees, and don’t allow me to move until I clear them out. The only way I can get them to leave me alone is by pelting them with candy, just like in the game, and then I can move more freely. Sometimes my children cover themselves with Jelly and the only way to remove the Jelly is by throwing multiple combinations of candy at the Jelly chunks on their faces. My children are also recreating the game board from Candy Crush Saga in our 10-acre backyard with 300+ levels, just like in the game. When my husband gets home, all he does is drink beer and neglect me and my children, so it’s not like he’s going to put a stop to this madness! I wish that I could hire a butler to escort my children around this hugely elaborate candy game that is evolving in my backyard.

And just like the real-life version in my backyard, Candy Crush Saga was probably play-tested by all of three people, none of them paid. What’s the point of balancing a game when you can charge people anywhere from a dollar to FORTY damn dollars to cheat on an unbalanced game? Instead of trying to make the game a “fun,” balanced, and healthy experience, they’ve created a death machine meant to extort money and make the obesity epidemic even worse! Candy Crush Saga takes over the minds of the sheep we call our fellow humans and bleeds them dry for “power-ups” that shouldn’t even exist in a balanced game. No wonder they made 300 levels – you will inevitably be stuck on level 30, and never be able to play the other 90% of the game unless you pay to cheat! The temptation is absolutely unbearable! My children, both with iPhone 5s, have spent nearly 200 dollars each on this game to cheat. In real life, cheating is free — all you have to do is skirt around your obligations and make the other guy pay for the hotel. This game doesn’t teach my children any valuable or “useful” lessons.

Why can’t they make Health Food Saga, instead? It would have relieved my potential stress levels immeasurably. They should have used Fat-free milk, Baby Carrots, Asian Pears, Romaine Lettuce, Cherry Tomatoes and Vitamin Pills.

To conclude, this game needs to be more like real life – STOP PUTTING DELUSIONS IN MY IMPRESSIONABLE CHILDREN’S HEADS!!! LOOK AT WHAT IT HAS DONE TO MY LIFE, MY HOUSE, AND AMERICA!!! BAN CANDY CRUSH SAGA FROM YOUR iPHONES, PARENTS!  THE RESISTANCE STARTS WITH YOU!

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Pocket Planes (iOS) Review

March 9th, 2013 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: NimbleBit LLC || Overall: 5.0/10

Hardware Used: iPhone 5 with iOS 6

Pocket Planes is a somewhat-sequel to another NimbleBit game, Tiny Tower. Instead of managing an endless tower of floors, you are in control of your own endlessly expanding airline full of planes and airports across the Earth. Eventually you’ll be able to grow your airline from using planes that can only carry one person or one piece of cargo to planes that can carry up to 17.

The goal in Pocket Planes is to deliver stuff to different cities in the most efficient way possible. You take people and cargo in varying combinations from different airports and try to end up at your destination in the quickest/cheapest way possible so that you can have more capital to expand your reach. The idea is pretty interesting to me, personally, because I like Tycoon games, and at the end of the day it is one.

From a game design standpoint, Pocket Planes is a nice evolution from Tiny Tower. In Tiny Tower you basically had to micromanage your endlessly expanding tower. While there is still micromanaging in Pocket Planes, it isn’t nearly as stressful to keep up with since there is some actual strategy involved instead of just mindlessly spam-tapping you finger against a screen endlessly. When you want to deliver a person/cargo to a city, you have to figure out the best way to get there and the best way to make profit from the venture.

As opposed to Tiny Tower, you don’t necessarily feel like “time” is a resource. All of the planes in your fleet operate independently of each other, and you don’t feel like you’re “losing money” by having your planes sit at an airport waiting for instructions. Technically you could always be sending your plane on a job to make money, so there is that element of wanting to keep your planes busy, but the inclination is much less urgent. You can also dump a person/cargo at another airport without any penalties (other than fiscal) so that another one of your planes can take them wherever they need to go.

However, there are still some inherent flaws that the developers at Nimblebit just don’t seem to grasp that are present in both Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes — being able to FIND what you’re looking for EASILY. You’re going to have to memorize and hunt-and-peck for the airports you’re trying to get to. An arrow indicator or at least some sort of noticeable color that grabs your attention instead of slowly pulsing white text would be a real help here. Why are they trying to make me memorize where all of the airports in the game are? It looks like there are a hundred airports, at least.

User interface can also be a little wonky at times. It can lack intuitiveness, and the biggest issue is trying to figure out what is the most profitable flight path for a particular plane. You can’t easily switch out cargo to another piece to figure out if you’re going to make more money from shipping one piece versus another if you’re at the airport screen – you have to go back to the airport, go back to the load out screen for your plane, and THEN back to the map screen. You can’t just go back to the load out screen and back to the map screen back and forth. I feel like there are a lot of unnecessary taps involved in trying to send a plane on a new order. It should be more refined in this aspect and instantly bring up certain screens once you tap certain items instead of having to tap the button that explicitly has them occur. Or allow you to go back to the immediately previous screen.

Stability of the app is a huge issue. The game freezes, lags, and even crashes. Tiny Tower had some lag issues when you had a lot of floors, understandably, since it was trying to display all of the info at the same time. In Pocket Planes, there is much less going on, so it makes no sense whey I have to wait a minute or force quit the game to get anything going when it decides to go haywire.

The currency system in this game might actually be more ridiculous than Tiny Tower’s. Tiny Tower pretty much only had one place to sink your Coins into – more floors. In Pocket Planes, there are at least ten things you can spend Coins on, and more things to sink your Bux into. Coins are used to buy new airports (which come with a bonus plane part) and upgrade airports/airplanes. You can also advertise airports to get more traffic in and out of it. Bux are used to make planes instantly arrive at their destination, buy more Coins, and buy more planes or parts. Once you have enough parts for a particular plane, you can spend more Bux to build that plane and put it into service. If you don’t have enough available airplane slots, you have to buy another with more Coins. Airplanes have three stats that you can upgrade with Bux: speed, range, and weight. Speed and range seem self-explanatory. Weight, however, can be a little bit ambiguous. Weight will improve the efficiency of the plane and make them cheaper to fly, which means more profit in the long run. All three stats can be upgraded three times.

Of course, Bux are the all-important currency in this “free-to-play” game. Bux allow you to pretty much excel in the game, and if you have too many you can exchange them into Coins. While Bux are the more valuable currency and you are “allowed” to buy them with real money, Coins are the most needed and you need gobs of them to do anything profound (we’re talking tens of thousands). There is also the cost of actually having to spend Coins to have your planes fly anywhere, so if you don’t have any Coins, your planes aren’t going anywhere. When a piece of cargo or a passenger is paying Bux to get to their destination, you are essentially paying Coins to get those Bux. Spending Coins in this game to make Coins doesn’t have the same problem Tiny Tower does – in this game you can actually influence how much profit you can make by your flight plan for each individual plane. In Tiny Tower, all Coin costs were essentially fixed and could have easily been taken into account so that you wouldn’t have to “spend Coins” to make Coins.

The prices of airports range from 1000 Coins to 75,000 Coins, or maybe less/more. I’m not really inclined to tap a ton of airports to figure out how much they cost. Airplane slot costs slowly increase from about 2000 Coins to infinity. There is a leveling system in place that restricts your maximum amount of airplane slots you can buy (as if you would be able to buy them all) and the amount of airports you can own. Gaining levels gives you extra Bux to use as you please. Once you get to the point where you don’t want to use your one or two passanger planes anymore, you can remove them from service, which go into a repository named the “Hangar.” If you want to put those planes back into service, it costs Bux to do so.

One of the redeeming factors of the game is that it allows you to “collect” all of the planes in the game in your Hangar. It is also pretty cool because they have fun planes like a Starship or Hot Air Balloon. Another cool aspect is that practically every screen allows you to instantly look up Help information in-game if you are sketchy on the details of a particular option. The Help icon in the top right is pretty helpful at times, and is nice to have.

Notifications are also a problem that carries over from Tiny Tower. This game constantly notifies you if you are going in and out of the game. Every time one of your planes land it buzzes to let you know. You can temper the notifications – there are two options: “First & Last Landing” and “All Landings.” You can only disable the notifications if you go into your iPhone’s settings — not something you can do in-game. If you are constantly playing the game you are going to get buzzed quite a bit, and it can become tiresome during those points. There needs to be some sort of way to group up notifications – such as every 30 minutes (or something you can customize) the game should at that point tell you there are “8 planes ready for directions” instead of resetting the “First & Last Landing” counter every time you go into it.

A lot of the art in the game is re-used from Tiny Tower. The art style is basically the same as its predecessor, on account of the recycling, so it meshes well with it. It is nice to look at, but not as upfront humorous as Tiny Tower, since most of the time you’re spending it on menu screens. The sound is also sort of annoying since it is ambient airplane burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. And you can’t make it go away unless you go to an unoccupied airport. Recommend to turn it off, sirs and madams.

Pocket Planes may become as cumbersome as Tiny Tower does later in the game. As you expand airports, you might have a tough time remembering where anything is, and since there isn’t an easy way to figure out how much profit you can get from alternate choices, it may compound even further. You also shouldn’t get smart and try to start having airports randomly across the world – you will start getting requests to go to those airports you can’t reach with your main fleet, so it’s better to expand from your first airport out.

Playing the game for a longer period of time, you tend to hit a “wall” where you can’t buy any more airports or add any more planes to your roster. Gaining Coins is such a cumbersome task that it is hard to gain because your smaller planes only make so much in one delivery run. Expanding to the larger planes is also a difficult prospect, because the “class” of the plane allows it to only land at “bigger” airports. A Class 2 plane can only land in Class 2 or higher Airports, and so on. That means your larger planes won’t visit any Class 1 airport you bought and as a result, you won’t really be making money from a Class 2 plane until you have a lot of Coins. But you can’t make a lot of Coins with smaller planes… unless you grind forever. It is a vicious cycle, and sort of impedes any natural “progression” that you may have. The level restrictions are just an additional unneeded barrier since the thing that is really holding you back is the amount of Coins you earn.

I suppose recommending this game would be something I would do, but it’s not really all that fun, just more attention-inducing than anything else. You kind of wait around a lot and get tons of notifications. There’s a few “meta objectives” that consist of you delivering thousands of jobs and competing in some sort of social competition thing called Flight Crew where you can qualify for bonuses if you achieve a certain mark during an event, but they don’t really change the game that much – it just “inspires” you to play more.

Games like this tend to not be anything more than a time waster. There isn’t any skill involved with playing, and there isn’t any “fun” progression. The natural progression of the game is lassoed by the intent to make you buy Bux, and that is pretty sad. If it weren’t for the endless grind, stability of the app, and the recycled art, Pocket Planes might actually be fun.

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Infinity Blade (iOS) Review

February 27th, 2013 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer: Chair Entertainment Group | Publisher: Epic Games || Overall: 5.0/10

Hardware Used: iPhone 5 with iOS 6

Infinity Blade is a game in which you must vanquish a bum in his castle.

How does a bum get a castle? Hell if I know. But this guy who owns his five-room castle full of his sex-slave gimp-dressed “Champions” stand around and jerk it all day waiting for the next adventurous idiot (20 years apart from each) to go through the castle and kill them.

Infinity Blade is everything that is wrong with traditional gaming trying to make its way on mobile platforms. It’s an on-rails dungeon crawler with some point-and-click (or is it point-and-touch, now?) elements to it. It takes the feeling of freedom away from the player since you aren’t necessarily able to explore wherever you like and can only progress in a few paths that all ultimately end up in the same place. As opposed to a traditional console game where you’re able to move by yourself with ease, the designers decided it was best to not allow you to have the frustration of moving in 3D with only a touch screen and completely removed the ability to freely control your character. During battles, all you do is swipe your finger to hit the enemy with a sword, block, dodge, or use your overpowered specials (a stun and various magic spells) that can help you win a battle. Battles break up your combos whether you like it or not by inserting a five second cutscene at every third of the enemy’s health. The camera angle is also changed so that you become disoriented to limit your ability in fucking up the enemy again right off the bat.

The touch screen is no replacement for buttons, and this game makes it all too apparent that buttons are an evolution of necessity – it is easy to know when you push something it will react. However, when you swipe your hand across the screen or push a touch-screen-button the reliability of the action that you actually want to happen is around 85% rather than 99%. My biggest problem with the game is that the touch screen “buttons” in the game are not reactive to my lifeless hands. For some reason I always have trouble conducting enough electricity or heat or jazz in my hands to make something work on my touch screen. Don’t ask me why, it just happens. No matter how many times I smack my finger down on the touch screen to dodge, if it isn’t going to work, it isn’t going to work. The other annoying thing about Infinity Blade is instead of pushing a button and an analog stick to swipe; you have to move your whole hand, wrist, and arm to do one swipe. Essentially, you are playing Fruit Ninja on steroids, and I really wish there were buttons for this game because I’m going to get tendonitis in my shoulder if all games end up being like this.

But I suppose that buttons would make this game too easy as is. You can tell that the difficulty is adjusted to allow for reaction times in swiping. However, once you memorize the animations of each of your enemies (there are probably about 5 unique models in total, with different skins), you will breeze through most of the encounters. You can also use a healing spell, depending on which item you have equipped, which will basically help you cheat. Items are also an important part of the game, as when you master one of the hundreds of weapons and armor in the game, you gain a stat point to allocate. This aspect forces you to progress and not use the same items forever so that you can master more items and gain more stats, in addition to the stats you gain each level.

On the other side of Infinity Blade, you have a game that aspires to be something greater than it is. “Amazing” graphics, notwithstanding, you’ve got a unique experience with Infinity Blade that isn’t replicated very often in mobile gaming right now. I would align the graphics in the game to early-PlayStation 3 quality, but since the image is shrunk down to a 5 inch screen, that would be a bit too much credit. It’s probably more like late-PlayStation 2 graphics shrunk down with cooler lighting. However, the game will make you say “hey this looks pretty cool” …and then you get used to the graphics and it kind of doesn’t matter anymore. Except when you notice that the battery on your phone drains faster while playing than your phone can charge if you have the foresight to have it plugged in while playing.

So, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about what makes the game even worse. Once I figured out the point of the game, I actually got sad. The overall, repeating, arc of the game is that you go in as this nameless adventurer guy, fight through battles until you get to the bum who is ridiculously powerful and kills you almost assuredly on your first encounter. Once you die, you see your adventurer’s son appear on the same ledge overlooking the castle that his father did 20 to 23 years earlier. Each tour through the castle and meeting your fateful demise is considered a “Bloodline.”

What this game tells you about the story is basically nothing. What it implies, though, is that there is society outside of the reach of the bum who owns a shitty castle. This society breeds new adventurers so that one day, a hundred or so years in the future, the bum will be killed. So, since these adventurers are somehow forced to father a son before leaving on their journey, he must be banging all of the women in the society to make sure that there is one son before he leaves, so that in twenty or so years, that fatherless child can go and die the same death his father did.

Thinking further about this “society,” you have to wonder about its structure. Is it matriarchal or patriarchal? My personal thought is that the women in this society are propagating this attitude of sending the son of this same Bloodline over and over to their death because they’re mad the bum bought up all the tampons at the general store for his Champions.

These women have deemed this particular Bloodline the only one that can go and fight the bum known as a “Deathless.” The Deathless guy sits on his chair eating chips and his Champions stand in the middle of rooms for twenty years at a time. He only ever gets out of his comfy throne to fight an adventurer who is idiotic enough to go and die by his blade. Pretty weird, if you ask me. Nothing is demonstrated as to the terrorizing the Deathless dude actually does to anyone else in the world, so I have to fill in the blanks. He just sits on his throne and watches Law & Order all the time. Leave the guy alone!

If this society’s only purpose is to destroy this Deathless guy, why hasn’t the Deathless guy got off his ass in the hundreds of years before and after you start playing the game and just fucking kill them? Who the fuck knows. He’s probably a lazy bum, that’s why I keep calling him that. I mean, he doesn’t even improve his living situation. There are literally no cool features of his castle — he doesn’t have a bowling alley, or a game room, or even a bathroom. What the hell are you paying your Champions for? Train them to be plumbers and masons instead of just how to use weapons only once every twenty years. They’ve got to be depressed being sanctioned to only a certain part of the castle and never being able to do anything fulfilling. Can’t he find a better castle? One where these stupid adventurer guys won’t bug him?

Once you are able to fight the Deathless guy and beat him to about a third of his health, he will proposition you to either join him or you can pick up your sword again and fight him to the death. If you join him, you just fight him again, so the game doesn’t really “let you” join him. If you end up actually killing the guy, the Deathless dude will say something inane about “other dangers” in the world being even worse than him. And as if that wasn’t a cop out enough, the adventurer dude is now alone in this stupid castle and has nothing better to do than snoop around. So he presses some weird console on his throne and all of a sudden a 3D Holographic map appears and some weird sci-fi music and other random weird shit happens. I have no idea what the fuck is going on in this game. What the fuck is the point of all of this? All you do is grind XP, master your weapons, gain stats, and swipe your sword over and over at the same five enemies, and then they throw in this mind-fuck for no good reason.

If ChAIR even bothered to put some sort of inkling of a story in this travesty of a game I wouldn’t feel like I was put out to pasture. What the hell is the point of half-assing this story and throwing in some random sci-fi shit that doesn’t belong just to give us a mind-blowing moment or whatever? Just so that they can get us pissing our pants in excitement for the next Infinity Blade game? Get out of here with that shit. The only reason I even downloaded this game to begin with was because it was free. If I paid 9 dollars or whatever it is for this game I would be fucking pissed off right now.

As if endlessly grinding XP and Gold wasn’t enough, they make the prices of this shit so astronomical they “allow” you to buy Gold in the game. 2.5 million Gold-things for 50 bucks or whatever? Doing more research about what you do in the game after you kill the level 50 God King Deathless bum, you are able to purchase the Infinity Blade for 500,000 gold. Using this blade, you can open three or four extra bosses who have levels in the hundreds. So, that’s one reason to keep grinding the game after you’ve “beaten” it.

Yeah, that sounds great. What a load of bullshit. This game sucks. I’m uninstalling it. Eventually.

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